The discovery of fire is thought to be when cooking began. As a result there was a rise in meat consumption. Humans, who had eaten what they could hunt and gather, started to settle and therefore the tools they used began to transform. Man made stoves and ovens were created. People chose to live near sources of water. In Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley, China and India people created settlements and began farming in agriculture and livestock. According to the life forms discovered in Anatolia at the Konya Çatalhöyük and Diyarbakır Çay civilization sites and the information obtained in connection with them, it is apparent that animals were domesticated and used for food in this area.
Also it has been determined that they raised grains, legumes, etc. In the 3000s BC it was observed that Egyptians were developed in agriculture. Cotton, flax, etc. was used and in India, the Far East and China barley, rice, soy, corn and silkworms were produced. In Central America the Indians raised tomatoes and potatoes. Since Mesopotamia is considered to be the starting point of civilizations it is also accepted that the science of food started and spread from here. Mesopotamia influences Egypt, Anatolia and other places. Food culture spread from these civilizations to Europe.
On the 700s BC when the Romans were conquering cities they also copied some of their culture. After each conquest they started to organize collective dinners and festivals and thus were able to get a taste of the cuisines in the regions they had conquered. Especially during the time of Drusus Julius Caesar this practice was carried out very often. The Tayernas that were established then to drink alcohol and enjoy entertainment have been maintained to our present day as Tavernas. During the Roman times chefs were generally chosen from among slaves. The first cookbook was written by Apicius. The herbs and recipes in this book are still used today.
Along with the fall of the Roman Empire the progress in the culinary arts of the people also came to a standstill. Food and beverage continued to advance in the caravanserais and inns that were located on the secure trade roads. In the medieval age a great migration took place in Europe and as a result the fusion cuisine was discovered. The Jews who settled in Europe brought dried fruit and vegetables and bread from the Mediterranean and those from the north brought seafood to add variety to the range of foods in Medieval Europe. During the Medieval Age people mostly stayed in their castles or home because of the constraints. Collective meals mostly took place at monasteries or churches. During this era the kitchens were inspected by priests. Wine, beer, baking and cooking techniques were fairly advanced in monasteries and the liquor that was made back then still survived to our present day.
Food production in the medieval era was conducted by merchant lodges. Merchants lodges took on the name of “Chaîne des Rôtisseurs “ in the 13th century and were recognized as the most reputable group of gourmets. These lodges raised crews for professional kitchens and laid the foundations for today’s chefs and apprentices. The tubular chef’s hats used today are left from the chef masters in this era. The masters who learned here were given “black chef’s hats” as a symbol of dignity in the medieval era. This was called a Golden Touge. In the medieval times food was generally prepared in areas with long halls and wide chimneys in huge pots. Especially the crusades contributed greatly to the diversification and development of the medieval age Europe’s kitchen.
Significant developments were observed in cuisine culture in the years following the Medieval Age in Europe. Migrations, the intensity of trade, political developments and the use of new techniques in every field contributed to the advancement of cuisine culture. It was observed that kinds and dignitaries became richer from the pictures they had drawn and scratched into the walls of the dinners they organized in their castles and monasteries. While the level of welfare rose efforts were made to achieve better quality food and drink in that era. Kitchens with long halls and wide chimneys were built and the kitchen equipment and tools being used were improved. The most significant factor in cuisine culture is migrations.
Due to migrating meat was marinated with spices and flavor additives from the far east. In that era game animals (rabbit, deer, quail, duck) were especially consumed and they were mostly cooked in rotisserie style on a pit against a fire. The chef profession gradually started to gain dignity. Especially during the Renaissance era the chefs working in the mansions of dignitaries were give knight titles. The tomb stones of chefs who had died in that era were adorned with knight emblems.
From countries overseas from Europe, particularly from America, corn, potato, red pepper, tomato, coffee, cocoa and most importantly turkey was brought. Exotic fruits (avocado, pineapple, mango, papaya) were brought from the far east. In the 1500s, with the marriage of Italian Caterina de' Medici with Henry II, the heir to the thrown in France, the cuisine of Italy was brought to France. This event had a great influence on French cuisine.
Thus new kinds of dishes were prepared in the French kitchens and the table layout took on a stronger order. The French were introduced to ice cream for the first time. Honey and fruit juices were added to snow brought down from high mountains to create ice cream. The concept of couvert (service; fork, knife) emerged here. Everyone attending dinner parties would bring their own utensils in their bags. Then the table took on its present state.
During this era chefs cooked for the rich and noble. It is said that “Martino”, a book written by an Italian chef contributed to the French cuisine. François Pierre La Varenne went down in history as one of the first founders of French Cuisine and his book called La Cuisine Français, he talks about eating according to the season, the preparation of vegetables, salads and consommés. The French culinary arts especially reached its peak in the era of Louis XIV. and Louis XV. French King Louis XIV., who stayed on the thrown for 72 years, organized huge parties and greatly advanced palace cuisine. The menu concept was developed at this time and the varieties were comprised of 14-16 flavors which were served in a particular order during the feast. Again huge efforts were made to improve cuisine and one of France’s greatest schools The Cordon Bleu was established and also in this era famous French writers gave the names of nobles and statesmen to dishes.
Names like béchamel, chateaubriand, morney, zaher and melba are some of these names and are still current. After Louis XIV., Louis XV. took the thrown and in this period French cuisine continued to develop. King Louis XV.’s wife was Polish. During this era they continued to follow in the footsteps of Caterina de' Medici in developing a new order in the kitchen. The King waived all chefs of Cordon Bleu. In this period French chefs became famous worldwide. Kitchen equipment showed progress and the “bain-marie” device emerged in this period. After the French revolution in 1789, many noble families, especially those who had lost their fortunes, continued in the culinary arts and laid the foundations for the restaurants of today.
The word restaurant was first derived from the word “restaurer” which comes from restore. It means that which is repaired or renewed. The first restaurant was established in the 1700s by “Boulanger” in Paris France in the caravanserai and inn model (long tables with seating across from each other) as a place to stop and sustain hunger. It was given the name Restaurante. Especially the soups sold well. Boulanger developed a conflict with the worker guilds and began to attract reaction instead of support.
However, since this person was well acquainted with the public he continued to attract customers and was able to gradually settle his business in. After this restaurant “La Grande Taverne de Londres” was opened in Paris (1780) with a more stylish and meticulous design. A menu was created and an alacarte practice was started. The founder of this restaurant was Beauvilliers’dir. Beauvilliers wrote a book called “Le ad de cuisine”. It advanced the culinary arts and laid the foundations for modern restaurateurs. By the beginning of the 1800s the number of restaurants has exceeded 500
In the 19th Century restaurants had advanced greatly, varieties had emerged and an atmosphere of competition had been created. Due to the efforts of Antoine Carème’ the Grand Cuisine had started serving the highest class in France. The dishes were very complex, rich and prepared with a lot of care. Carème, whose actual profession was architecture, proved himself in the kitchen in a very short time and became the most sought after chef by aristocrats.
Carème has been called both the chef of kings and the king of chefs. ‘Carème elevated the Grande Cuisine to the highest level of culinary arts. In the “Le Maitre d’Hotel - Le Patisseire Royal” books he has written the recipes for dishes made in various cities of Europe. This individual, who was actually an architect, concentrated more on cold foods and baking. He wrote books about the art of decorating. He organized kitchen tools and equipment. He made chef’s uniforms be re-designed. He put confusing sauces in order. He developed the practice of using garnishes with main dishes in presentation. He especially emphasized the importance of consommés and soups.
Following the development of French cuisine and restaurants, a variety of restaurants started being opened in America and in other European countries, they developed and laid the foundations for today’s restaurants. Auguste Escoffier, the inventor of the classical cuisine, started his career as a chef at 18 years of age working as an apprentice in his uncle’s restaurant and spent his whole life in the kitchen until his death at 89. Contrary to Carème, Escoffier did not work as a chef to aristocrats and kings but he worked in the most high quality hotels in Europe and became an administrator. He increased the value of Carème by elevating the Grande Cusine to the highest level and supported this movement as well as simplifying the complicated criteria of the period.
He created a cuisine using less and fresh ingredients and called this style Cusine Classique to establish the classical cuisine of France. Escoffier proved that he was very enthusiastic about creating new dishes just like Carème. He created the dessert “peach melba” for Nellie Melba, a famous opera singer of the era. He wrote the book “Guide Culinary”. In this guide he provides a number of recipes from the classical cuisine, cooking techniques, preparation techniques and materials used in cooking. In 1920 he was awarded by the president of that period with the Légion d’honeur for being the best chef to introduce French Cuisine to the world.
The third period in France, which is considered the center of European cuisine, is called Nouvelle Cuisine. Fernand Point refined the classical cuisine created by Escoffier and created a modern identity. Thus we recognize him as the creator of Nouvelle Cuisine. In his own restaurant he did not spend a lot of time on sauces but mostly concentrated on garnishes and also put the cooking times in order while preparing food and used quality ingredients. He worked for long years perfecting sauces and garnished that appeared simple.
Fernand Point is also known as a chef who trained famous chefs like Georges Auguste Escoffier. Among these one of the most famous is Paul Bocuse. Nouvelle Cuisine rejected all canned goods and chemical preservatives and always contended that seasonal garnishes should be used. It always preferred freshness. Also the cuisine recommends vegetables be cooked “al dante”. Rather than thickening sauces with flour it is recommended that cream, butter and eggs be used to thicken the consistency.